The good news is ... ex­po­sure to wood is good for the heart, the head and heal­ing!

Australasian Timber - - WOOD IS GOOD -

PLANET ARK has com­pleted a re­port – Wood – Na­ture In­spired De­sign – which out­lines the im­por­tance of con­nect­ing build­ings with the natural world and how with ‘na­ture con­nected de­sign’ (also called bio­philic de­sign) and us­ing wood we can bring na­ture in­doors and pro­vide a health­ier, hap­pier en­vi­ron­ment for all.

Over re­cent years there has been an in­creas­ing recog­ni­tion of the ben­e­fits that hu­mans gain from con­tact with trees and na­ture.

Mod­ern so­ci­ety has changed its re­la­tion­ship with na­ture. In the space of a sin­gle gen­er­a­tion chil­dren’s play has moved from out­doors to in­doors, the iconic back­yard has shrunk, parents have be­come in­creas­ingly anx­ious about chil­dren’s safety, work­ing hours and stress lev­els have risen and technology (es­pe­cially screens) has en­croached into al­most all ar­eas of life.

In­creas­ing ur­ban­i­sa­tion rates mean that peo­ple have less ac­cess to na­ture in their daily lives and Aus­tralians on av­er­age now spend over 90 per cent of their time in­doors. This dis­con­nect with na­ture and the out­doors cor­re­sponds with re­ports of in­creas­ing lev­els of obe­sity and nearly half of Aus­tralians ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a men­tal health con­di­tion within their lifetime.

The health and hap­pi­ness ben­e­fits as­so­ci­ated with spend­ing time out­side in na­ture are well known and re­ported on by Planet Ark pre­vi­ously. This love of time in na­ture has been termed ‘bio­philia’ and ex­plains our in­nate need to con­nect with the natural world. This re­la­tion­ship can be ex­tended into the built en­vi­ron­ment where we live, work, rest and play.

A wide body of re­search from the in­ter­na­tional sci­en­tific com­mu­nity has re­peat­edly iden­ti­fied that the in­creased use of wood in fur­ni­ture, fit­tings and struc­tures has mea­sur­able phys­i­o­log­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal health ben­e­fits. We now know that work­ers are less stressed and more pro­duc­tive, stu­dents learn bet­ter, pa­tients heal faster, and peo­ple are gen­er­ally hap­pier and calmer in spa­ces that con­tain natural el­e­ments like wood. Re­searchers have also re­ported peo­ple ex­pe­ri­enc­ing higher lev­els of self­es­teem, im­proved cog­ni­tive func­tion and de­creased blood pres­sure, when ex­posed to natural el­e­ments like wood in their built en­vi­ron­ment.

As it is not al­ways pos­si­ble to in­crease our time spent out­side, par­tic­u­larly in ar­eas like work­places, schools and hos­pi­tals, un­der­stand­ing how to in­cor­po­rate the ben­e­fits of na­ture into our in­door en­vi­ron­ments is an in­creas­ingly im­por­tant area of re­search.

Re­spon­si­bly sourced (and cer­ti­fied) tim­ber has clear health and hap­pi­ness ben­e­fits, as well as be­ing a weapon in the strug­gle against cli­mate change by both stor­ing car­bon and re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions.

For more in­for­ma­tion please visit

■ CLT House Ma­ian­bar - De­sign: Ardea Oosthuizen Pho­tog­ra­phy: Josh Hill Pho­tog­ra­phy

■ John Sep­ti­mus Roe Angli­can Com­mu­nity School Se­nior Learn­ing Cen­tre De­sign: Brook­ing De­sign Ar­chi­tects, Pho­tog­ra­phy: Heather Rob­bins

Marist Col­lege Bendigo - De­sign: Y2 Ar­chi­tec­ture and Three Acres Land­scape Ar­chi­tec­ture, Pho­tog­ra­phy: Bill Conroy, Press 1 Pho­tog­ra­phy

Tempe House - De­sign: Ped­er­son Ar­chi­tec­ture, Pho­tog­ra­phy: Thilo Pulch

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